EGMR: Forthcoming judgment on Tuesday 14 November 2017 – Işıkırık v. Turkey (no. 41226/09)

The applicant, Murat Işıkırık, is a Turkish national who was born in 1984 and lives in Mardin (Turkey). The case concerns his criminal conviction for participating in a funeral of four members of the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party, an illegal organisation) and in a demonstration.

Mr Işıkırık, who was a student at Dicle University at the time, was arrested in March 2007 and questioned at the anti-terror branch of the Diyarbakır police headquarters in connection with two events: On 28 March 2006 a funeral of four members of the PKK, who had been killed by the security forces, had taken place in Diyarbakır. According to police reports, after the burial ceremony had been completed, about 1.000 people had participated in an illegal demonstration, with demonstrators throwing stones at police officers and causing damage to buildings. On 5 March 2007 a demonstration had been held on the campus of Dicle University. A group of 40 people had entered the university building and had asked students to leave. They had held a press conference and chanted slogans in favour of the PKK and its leader Abdullah Öcalan.

Mr Işıkırık initially denied having taken part in the two events. After he had been shown photographs of himself taken at the events, he stated that he had attended the funeral as a religious duty, as one of the activists who had been killed was a relative of a friend of his, but that he had not attacked the police. He also maintained that he had stood in front of the university on 5 March 2007 but that he had not chanted any slogans. On the day of his questioning he was remanded in custody, and in May 2007 he was charged with membership in an illegal organisation and with disseminating propaganda in support of the PKK. In November 2007 he was convicted of both offences, for which he received a sentence of six years and three months and a sentence of one year and eight months, respectively. His conviction of disseminating propaganda in support of the PKK was subsequently quashed on procedural grounds and the proceedings in respect of that offence were eventually suspended in December 2012 for three years. He was released from detention in November 2011 after having served four years and eight months of his sentence.

In the meantime, Mr Işıkırık was expelled from university because he had failed to complete his degree within the maximum period of time.

Relying on Article 10 (freedom of expression) and Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association), Mr Işıkırık complains about his conviction and alleges that the sentences imposed on him were disproportionate. He further relies on Article 5 § 3 (right to liberty and security / entitlement to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial) and Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial within a reasonable time), complaining that his detention on remand and the criminal proceedings against him were unreasonably long. Finally, he relies on Article 14 (prohibition if discrimination), alleging that he was tried and convicted on account of his Kurdish origin.

Press release ECHR 330 (2017) 10/11/2017

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